Logo of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). ccamlr.org

By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent in Oslo; editing by Mark Heinrich
1 November 2012

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Major nations failed to reach agreement on Thursday to set up huge marine protected areas off Antarctica under a plan to step up conservation of creatures such as whales and penguins around the frozen continent.

The 25-member Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) agreed, however, to hold a special session in Germany in July 2013 to try to break the deadlock after the October 8-November 1 meeting in Hobart, Australia.

Environmentalists criticised the failure to agree new marine protected areas in the Ross Sea and off East Antarctica, home to penguins, seals, whales and seabirds as well as valuable stocks of shrimp-like krill.

"We're deeply disappointed," Steve Campbell of the Antarctic Ocean Alliance, grouping conservation organisations, told Reuters at the end of the CCAMLR annual meeting. He said that most resistance had come from Ukraine, Russia and China.

Environmentalists said that the United States, the European Union, Australia, and New Zealand were among countries pushing for agreement on new protected zones.

Some fishing fleets are looking south because stocks nearer home are depleted and some nations worry about shutting off large areas of the oceans. CCMALR comprises 24 member states and the European Union.

"This year, CCAMLR has behaved like a fisheries organisation instead of an organisation dedicated to conservation of Antarctic waters," said Farah Obaidullah of Greenpeace.

Among proposals, a U.S.-New Zealand plan would have created a 1.6 million sq km (0.6 million sq miles) protected area in the Ross Sea - about the size of Iran.

And the EU, Australia and France proposed a series of reserves of 1.9 million sq km (0.7 mln sq miles) off East Antarctica - bigger than Alaska. […]

Nations fail to agree plan to protect seas around Antarctica

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